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Digitalization, Unity, and Evolution: Lessons from COVID-19

Power of Ideas
Digitalization, Unity, and Evolution: Lessons from COVID-19

The past 18 months have been extremely challenging for industries across the world. These unprecedented times have caused disruption in many ways. However, it is important to acknowledge the positive changes that have emerged. Organizations were forced to adapt their business models, pivot their marketing strategies, and shift their product offering in order to survive and meet constantly and rapidly changing demand. The travel sector was one of the most severely affected industries. The challenges presented by the pandemic forced businesses to implement changes and remain flexible. Those shifts included the need for innovation, the digitalization of services, and the importance of unity—factors relevant to all sectors of business and society.

China was the first country to be hit by the pandemic, and Trip.com Group was one of the first travel companies to be faced with this immense challenge. Trip.com Group has been at the forefront of innovation since its founding and even more so since the start of the pandemic. The Group has been able to successfully weather the storm precisely through its deep commitment to innovation and its ability to embrace change as a positive economic driver.

As lockdown measures limited the movement of people and patterns of consumption, the digitalization of services accelerated. Whether limited to their homes looking for their next trip or on the move trying to find out the latest travel updates, we knew we had to be there for our customers. We deepened our investment in technology and developed seamless on-site and on-app user experience allowing the Group to support partners and customers in these difficult times. We enhanced our platforms by building out our multi-product offering, impeccable mobile experience, and 24/7 service—all with the aim to meet partner demand and customer expectations.

Flexibility and unity are key factors to a better future.

As the hunger for accurate travel information and safe travel protocols grew, we worked with industry partners to launch safe travel measures and launched our COVID-19 International Travelers’ Guide featuring the latest updates on travel requirements—all communicated through our online platforms. The power of mobile internet cannot be underestimated; it has played a vital role in keeping the world functioning on a human and industry level.

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned as a global community is the importance of collaboration and unity. The pandemic proved to all organizations that they are stronger as a collective. We worked on many initiatives with partners and governments to lead the recovery of the industry. Projects including medical donations to neighboring countries and boosting campaigns such as the "SingapoRediscovers Vouchers" allowed the Group to support partners while responding to the demand of their customers in the best way possible. We collaborated with organizations such as the World Travel & Tourism Council to ensure travelers and industry workers were safe. Through our Travel On initiative, we united industry players with the introduction of investment in partners, the rolling out of safety measures, and access to new tech to boost partner-customer engagement.

As the global pandemic circumstances developed, so did our approach. We evolved our efforts to align with our Local Focus, Global Vision strategy. Products and ideas that began as small-scale innovations were ramped up as their merits for the advancing market were recognized. Our Star Hub partner content portal was launched to better connect attractions and destinations with travelers eager to explore where they will venture to next. We were able to scale up our several rural revitalization projects, introducing a "five-year action plan" that aims to invest RMB 1 billion in the rural tourism industry in China.

The pandemic has taught us all some valuable lessons. For Trip.com Group, we embraced the evolution of change—remaining flexible and uniting with partners to weather the storm together. As a global community, it is our mission to make sure we implement the lessons learned to create a better world for all. Digitalization will continue to thrive—with mobile becoming the primary platform for services and all transactions of products and information. Companies must pursue innovation to meet ever-changing expectations and to foster flexibility in their business. Industries must look to maintain the bonds forged during the pandemic to develop resiliency to face future challenges. Driving change from what has been an immense challenge is crucial to the future of our global community. Together, we must digitalize, unite, and evolve.